Scottish Labour calls for human rights probe into care homes
Scottish Labour has called on the Scottish Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into the Scottish Government’s treatment of care home residents.
Richard Leonard has written to the commission asking them to ensure that the human rights of Scotland’s care home residents are upheld and defended throughout the coronavirus crisis, and that decisions taken by the Scottish Government with regards to care home residents are scrutinised to determine whether their human rights have been violated.
In the letter, Richard Leonard wrote: “One of the greatest tragedies of COVID-19 is the impact on older people, particularly in care homes. Over the last ten weeks, Scotland’s care homes, when compared with the previous five years, have had an 82% above average rate of death.
“Respecting the rights of our most vulnerable citizens should be paramount, particularly at a time of a national crisis and emergency. There should be consideration of whether decisions taken by the Scottish Government during the last three months have recognised and respected the human rights of care home residents.”
Highlighting that age is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act 2010, Mr Leonard raised his concerns over Scottish Government guidance to not admit care home residents to hospital, the ill-advised transfer of untested patients into care homes and a variety of other potentially discriminatory and dangerous practices included in official Scottish Government guidance issued to care homes and GPs.
Mr Leonard also called for the lessons of the pandemic to be learned. He concluded: “With Scotland registering the highest level of COVID-19 care home deaths in the UK, and perhaps proportionately in the world, it is vital that we ensure that lessons are learnt to stop this ever happening again. Particularly, if there is a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, we must ensure that the rights of older people and adults in care homes are upheld.
“We cannot bring back the victims but we must seek answers to what went wrong and establish whether the rights of older people were compromised. The human rights of residents and staff working in Scotland’s care homes must be respected.”
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